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Pen & Ink, Voice and Strings – Echoes from the New Frontier

ENCAMPMENT, WY – Western Writers of America (WWA) has announced the release of a CD compilation feat[...]

Lucia St. Clair Robson to Receive 2016 Owen Wister Award

ENCAMPMENT, Wyo. – Lucia St. Clair Robson, whose 1982 historical novel “Ride the Wind” won the Spur [...]

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Pen & Ink, Voice and Strings – Echoes from the New Frontier

ENCAMPMENT, WY – Western Writers of America (WWA) has announced the release of a CD compilation featuring 14 contemporary songs from prominent Western songwriters and singers. Pen & Ink, Voice and Strings – Echoes from the New Frontier will be released at the organization’s convention in Cheyenne, WY, June 21-25. The recording features several Spur Award-winning compositions performed by many of today’s premier Americana singer-songwriters. In addition, many of the best-written Western songs of the recent past are included on the anthology.

WWA music CD anthology cover
“Our board of directors has been considering the production of a CD featuring the best in Western music since the inception of the Spur Award for Best Song in 2008,” WWA president Sherry Monahan said. “WWA represents Western writers of every type, and songwriting has quickly become one of the most popular genres to express Western-oriented themes.”
The CD’s formal launch is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22 at the organization’s Welcome to Wyoming reception, to be held at the iconic Nelson Museum of the West in downtown Cheyenne.
Each of the 14 artists represented on the CD, along with their songwriting partners, contributed their work to the project, with proceeds supporting Western Writers of America’s mission to promote the literature of the American West.
Produced by WWA member and Western author/songwriter Jon Chandler, the collection spans the Western experience in song. “Producing this recording was a gratifying experience,” Chandler said. “As we say in the liner notes, Western music is alive and well. We carefully listened to and enjoyed dozens, if not hundreds, of songs, all of which were strong contenders to be included. After song selection, I contacted each of the artists and explained that we wanted to present listeners with exceptional songs that were both literate and literary. Each was delighted to contribute their work to this unique collection.”
The CD kicks off with the powerful lament for native culture by songbird Juni Fisher, Still Here, the 2012 Spur Award winner written by Fisher and noted cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell. Mike Blakely’s 2008 Spur Award winner, The Last Wild White Buffalo, has all the elements of a rousing short story wrapped up in his distinctive lyrics and melody.
Dave Stamey contributed his modern classic, The Vaquero Song, an evocative, spiritual tribute to California’s Mexican roots. Jim Jones’s Texas is Burnin’ is a pulse pounding, rootsy take on Texas history that was a co-winner of the Spur Award in 2013. The late Chuck Pyle’s estate contributed his classic, Colorado, an appreciation of his adopted state. Chandler’s 2012 Spur Award winner Morning Star Moon examines the lure of Wyoming’s Hole in the Wall country.
Gary McMahan’s The Old Double Diamond is considered by many to be the finest Western song ever written, and his live version is spellbinding. The raucous rodeo tune, Hang-n-Rattle! by Wylie and the Wild West is the 2010 Spur Award winner, written by performer extraordinaire Wylie Gustafson and legendary cowboy poet Paul Zarzyski. A lively, lovely song of the Southwest, Sky Rock, was contributed by WWA member and troubadour Carol Markstrom.
Bill Barwick, the Voice of the West, penned and performs his quintessential Western anthem, There Ain’t No Quit. Western phenomenon Mary Kaye’s moody yet rowdy tribute to Butch Cassidy, Any Name Will Do, was a Spur Award co-winner in 2013.
Lost Time on the Old Highway, by the Mark Jackson Band, is Mark C. Jackson’s fine take on every Americana songwriter’s favorite subject – The Road. Doug Figgs and Todd Carter wrote Charlie & Evangeline, a timeless Western tale of misfortune and gunplay that was recorded by Figgs, winding up as a winner of the 2015 Spur Award.
The CD closes with a newly recorded theme song by prolific author, former NYC firefighter and WWA member Bill Groneman, a heartfelt acknowledgement to the organization titled Western Writers of America.

Lucia St. Clair Robson to Receive 2016 Owen Wister Award

ENCAMPMENT, Wyo. – Lucia St. Clair Robson, whose 1982 historical novel “Ride the Wind” won the Spur Award and remains in print 34 years after its publication, will receive the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature.

The award, given by Western Writers of America, as the nonprofit writers guild’s highest honor, will be presented during the organization’s annual convention June 25 in Cheyenne.

Ride the Wind tells the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped by Comanche Indians as a child in Texas in 1836, married a Comanche leader and gave birth to a son, Quanah, who became the last chief of the Comanche Nation. A native of Florida, Robson wrote the novel while working as a public librarian in Maryland. She has followed that New York Times bestseller with eight other historical novels, including Ghost Warrior, about the Apache woman warrior Lozen, and Last Train From Cuernavaca, a 2010 Spur Award winner set during the Mexican Revolution.

“Lucia St. Clair Robson has a unique ability to immerse herself and her readers in unfamiliar cultures, which she brings to life with a rare accuracy and sensitivity,” said Kirk Ellis, the Emmy Award-winning writer of the HBO miniseries “John Adams” and incoming president of Western Writers of America. “Lucia matches unparalleled storytelling skills with a profound sympathy and understanding for people too often left on the margins of Western fiction. Her continued desire to explore uncharted territory makes her a worthy recipient of the WWA’s highest award.”

New Mexico authors to discuss ‘Landscape of Dreams’ in symposium at Collected Works

SANTA FE, N.M.Four New Mexico authors, including best-selling novelist Anne Hillerman and noted historian Paul Andrew Hutton, will discuss writing about the American West on Thursday, February 25, at Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Santa Fe, NM.

Lesley Poling-Kempes and Jack Loeffler will also take part in “Landscape of Dreams: Santa Fe and the Creative West,” Western Writers of America’s second James Ersfeld Western Writing Symposium. The free event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the bookstore, 202 Galisteo Street, Santa Fe, NM.

The four authors will share their thoughts on creativity, the lure of the West, fiction, nonfiction and music, and respond to audience comments and questions.

     The intent of the program is to encourage people in the writing field, with a focus on the Western genre. Western Writers of America, which was founded in the 1950s to promote and honor literature about the West, debuted the symposium, which features various subjects and authors, last year at the Denver Public Library.

Hillerman, the eldest of best-selling mystery author Tony Hillerman’s six children, grew up in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, surrounded by stories and beautiful landscapes. Her first novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter, debuted at No. 10 on the New York Times best-seller list. Her second book in the new series, Rock with Wings, and also made the NYT list and was recently released in paperback. Both are mysteries in the tradition of her father’s Navajo books.

Hutton is an American cultural historian, award-winning author, documentary writer and television personality. He is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of New Mexico. His latest book, The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History, will be published by Crown in May.

Loeffler, aural historian, sound collage artist, writer, environmental activist and New Mexico resident for more than 50 years, is co-curating an exhibition on the history of counter-culture in the Southwest and beyond, scheduled to open at the New Mexico History Museum in 2017. His books include: Headed Upstream: Interviews with Iconoclasts; La Musica de los Viejitos; Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of AbbeyHealing the West: Voices of Culture and Habitat; Survival Along the Continental Divide; and Thinking Like a Watershed.

Poling-Kempes is the award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction books about the American Southwest. Her novel Bone Horses, received the 2014 WILLA Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction and the Tony Hillerman Award. Her latest nonfiction book, Ladies of the Canyon: A League of Extraordinary Women & Their Adventures in the American Southwest, was released in 2015 and has been nominated for the MPBA Reading the West nonfiction award.

     The symposium is named after Ersfeld, Western Writers of America’s assistant director who died of cancer in 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the age of 62.

For more information, log on to CWBookstore.com or call Collected Works at (505) 988-4226.

Western Writers Hall of Fame Induction in Lubbock, Texas June 26

Win Blevins, this year’s Owen Wister Award honoree, joins a class of several distinguished writers who will become the first living writers to enter the Western Writers Hall of Fame.

Last year, the Homestead Foundation board of directors, which oversees the Western Writers Hall of Fame, voted to induct the Owen Wister Award recipient into the Hall of Fame, housed at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

Blevins is best known for his mountain man classic “Give Your Heart to the Hawks” and his novel of Crazy Horse, “Stone Song,” for which he won a Spur Award. His newest book is “The Darkness Rolling,” which he co-wrote with his wife Meredith Blevins.

Among the other inductees to the Hall of Fame this year are Judy Alter, Matt Braun, James A. Crutchfield, David Dary, Max Evans, Andrew J. Fenady, John Jakes, Leon C. Metz, N. Scott Momaday, Robert M. Utley, Dale L. Walker, Richard S. Wheeler and Jeanne Williams, all writers who have previously been recognized by WWA with either a Saddleman Award or a Wister Award (both given for lifetime achievement).

Also included in this year’s list of inductees are non-writers such as John Wayne, John Ford and Clint Eastwood.

Recently deceased Wister honorees not already in the Hall of Fame including Robert J. Conley, Fred Grove, Tony Hillerman, Elmer Kelton, Norman Zollinger, Jory Sherman, and David Lavender, will be posthumously inducted along with Edward Abbey who was voted into the Hall of Fame by the membership of Western Writers of America.

Other writers being recognized this year are S. Omar Barker, Bill Gulick, Dee Brown, Alvin Josephy Jr., Benjamin Capps, José Cisneros, Tom Lea, Elmore Leonard, Nelson Nye, Gordon Shirreffs and Don Worcester.

The induction ceremony will take place at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas, on June 26.

Among the other writers who already hold a place in the Hall of fame are Andy Adams, Eve Ball, B. M. Bower, Willa Cather, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Peggy Simpson Curry, Bernard Devoto, J. Frank Dobie, Frederick Glidden (Luke Short), Helen Hunt Jackson, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Western Writers of America to Meet in Lubbock, TX

The Texas Panhandle beckons Western writers and anyone who writes about the American West for the 2015 Convention in Lubbock, Texas, June 23-27.

During the week the association will pay tribute to the Spur Award winners and recognize the literary contributions of Win Blevins, winner of the 2015 Wister Award.

Western Historian Robert Utley, who is a past winner of the Wister Award and a 2015 inductee into the Western Writers Hall of Fame, will present a Keynote address.

History presentations at the convention include Buffalo Soldiers, the Alamo, Comanche Indians, and frontier ranch women. Other sessions will take place related to the craft of writing, book marketing, and research sources and techniques.

The convention tour will take convention participants to the American Wind Power Center and the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, plus the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University.

The convention will take place at the Overton Hotel, 2322 Mac Davis Lane, Lubbock, Texas 79401.  It is not necessary to be a member of WWA to attend the convention.

Win Blevins to Receive 2015 Owen Wister Award

Win Blevins is the 2015 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature. The award is given by Western Writers of America as its highest honor and will be presented during the organization’s annual convention in June in Lubbock, Texas.

The author of more than 30 books, including the Spur Award-winning novels Stone Song and So Wild a Dream, Blevins started his writing career as a music and drama reviewer for the Los Angeles Times. He then became the entertainment editor and principal theater and movie critic of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. His first book, Give Your Heart to the Hawks, was published in 1973 and since then he has made a living as a freelance writer. He has written articles for magazines and essays, and worked for 15 years as an editor at Macmillan Publishing and spent two years as Gaylord Family Visiting Professor of Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Blevins lives in Bluff, Utah, with his wife, mystery novelist Meredith Blevins, with whom he has written his newest novel, Moonlight Water, released in January by Forge Books.

His historical novels include the Rendezvous Series published by Tor-Forge Books, including So Wild a Dream (2003), Beauty for Ashes (2004), Dancing with the Golden Bear (2005), Heaven Is a Long Way Off (2006), A Long and Winding Road (2007) and Dreams Beneath Your Feet (2008). For the Rivers West series published by Bantam he wrote Powder River (1990), The Snake River (1992) and The High Missouri (1994).

Blevins also created, edited and co-published the series Classics of the Fur Trade, published by Mountain Press Publishing Company. This series included the two-volume The River of the West: The Adventures of Joe Meek by Frances Fuller Victor; Journal of a Mountain Man by James Clyman, Edward Warren by Sir William Drummond Stewart; The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie by James Ohio Pattie; and The Long Rifle by Steward Edward White.

The Wister Award is a bronze statue of a buffalo created especially for Western Writers of America by artist Robert Duffie. It will be presented June 27.

Western Writers of America, Denver Public Library schedule Western writing symposium

DENVER – New York Times best-selling novelist Sandra Dallas of Denver and critically acclaimed historian Mark Lee Gardner of Cascade will headline Western Writers of America’s inaugural James Ersfeld Western Writing Symposium on January 28 at the Denver Public Library.

Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Kirk Ellis (John Adams) of Santa Fe, N.M., will moderate the panel, which will begin at 8 p.m. and is sponsored by the nonprofit WWA and the Denver Public Library. The library, 10 W. 14th Avenue Parkway, will open its East entrance doors on Broadway at 7:30 p.m. for the session only – not for checking out books. The event is free.

Other panelists will be juvenile nonfiction author Nancy Plain of Short Hills, N.J., and novelist Johnny D. Boggs of Santa Fe. Plain has won three Spur Awards from WWA. Boggs, whose novels include Northfield and Camp Ford, has won six Spurs.

The intent of the symposium program is to encourage people in the writing field, with a focus on the Western genre. “Our membership includes novelists, historians, screenwriters, poets and songwriters who have a common link – we all draw upon the stories of the American West for inspiration,” WWA Executive Director Candy Moulton said. “We are pleased to launch the Ersfeld Symposium program in Denver, where our organization was founded more than 60 years ago. We particularly encourage high school or college students and people who are just beginning their writing journey to attend.”

The symposium is named after Ersfeld, a longtime WWA member and the organization’s assistant director who died of cancer in 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the age of 62.

Incorporated in Colorado in 1953 to promote and honor the literature of the American West, Western Writers of America today has more than 650 members worldwide, including mystery writers Anne Hillerman, C.J. Box and Craig Johnson, historical novelists Lucia St. Clair Robson, Thomas Cobb and Stephen Harrigan, historians Paul Andrew Hutton, James Donovan and Robert M. Utley, thriller writer David Morrell, romance writer Kat Martin and screenwriters C. Courtney Joyner and Miles Swarthout.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Dallas began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. While a reporter, she began writing the first of 10 nonfiction books, including Sacred Paint, which won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Wrangler Award, before turning to fiction in 1990. She has 13 novels, including her latest, A Quilt for Christmas and two children’s books, The Quilt Walk and Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Skies. Her adult novels The Chili Queen and Tallgrass won Spur Awards.

Gardner is the author of To Hell On A Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West and the Spur Award-winning Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape, both published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. He is at work on his third book for William Morrow: the story of Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.

Ellis, WWA’s vice president, is an Emmy-, Spur- and Western Heritage Wrangler-award winning screenwriter whose credits include Anne Frank, Into the West and John Adams. He has several ongoing projects, including an HBO film about the life of Harriet Tubman to star Viola Davis, and The Order: 1886, a history-based video game for Sony.

Plain writes histories and biographies for children and young adults. Her biographies of the cowboy artist Charlie Russell (Sagebrush and Paintbrush), the Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph (With One Sky Above Us) and the pioneer photographer Solomon D. Butcher (Light on the Prairie) won Spur Awards. Her latest book, This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books, in 2015.

A former newspaper sports journalist in Dallas-Fort Worth, Boggs has been writing fiction full time since 1998. In addition to his adult and young adult novels, he has written books about film (Jesse James and the Movies; Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012) and is a frequent contributor to True West, Wild West and Western Art & Architecture magazines.

Among the members who will attend the symposium are WWA President Sherry Monahan, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Past President Dusty Richards of Springdale, Ark., and Board Members William Groneman III of Kerrville, Texas, and Jon Chandler of Denver.

WWA Announces New Leadership

For the first time in Western Writers of America’s 60-plus-year history, two women hold the top executive positions. Sherry Monahan was elected president of the organization, taking office in June, and Candy Moulton has held the executive director’s position since 2011.

“It’s an exciting honor that Candy and I are the first two women to garner this accomplishment,” says Monahan, a nonfiction writer who lives in North Carolina whose books include Mrs. Earp: Wives and Lovers of the Earp Brothers. Moulton, a Wyoming native, is a two-time Spur Award winner for the biography Chief Joseph: Guardian of the People and the documentary In Pursuit of a Dream.
Incorporated in 1953 to promote and honor the literature of the American West, the nonprofit Western Writers of America today has more than 650 members – writers of not just traditional Western stories, but historical novelists, nonfiction writers, historians, academics, poets, songwriters and screenwriters.

Its members include mystery writers Anne Hillerman, C.J. Box and Craig Johnson, historical novelists Lucia St. Clair Robson, Thomas Cobb and Stephen Harrigan, historians Paul Andrew Hutton, James Donovan and Robert M. Utley, thriller writer David Morrell, romance writer Kat Martin and screenwriter Kirk Ellis, the organization’s vice president.

Monahan’s top priority, with the support of Moulton and the rest of the executive board, is to increase awareness of WWA. “WWA authors have one thing in common – our work in every medium is set in the ever-changing American West,” Monahan says.

WWA awards annual Spur Awards for the year’s best published works dealing with the American West. The 2015 convention, during which Spurs for material published in 2014 will be honored, is scheduled June 23-27 in Lubbock, Texas.

2014 Spur Awards Announced

ENCAMPMENT, Wyo. – Anne Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter – which continues the popular mystery series created by her late father, Tony Hillerman – won the 2014 Spur Award for Best First Novel, while Mark Lee Gardner won two Spurs for works dealing with the James-Younger Gang, Western Writers of America has announced.
Gardner won in the Best Western Nonfiction – Historical category for Shot all to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape (published by William Morrow/HarperCollins) and for Best Western Short Nonfiction with “The Other James Brother,” an article published in Wild West magazine that deals with Frank James, Jesse James’s older brother. HarperCollins published Spider Woman’s Daughter.
Since 1953, Western Writers of America (www.westernwriters.org) has promoted and honored the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published last year, are given for works whose inspiration, image, and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.
The 2014 Spur winners and finalists will be honored during WWA’s annual convention, June 24-28 in Sacramento, Calif.
In the novel categories, mystery writer James Lee Burke’s Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Simon & Schuster) won for Best Western Contemporary Novel; Henry Chappell’s Silent We Stood (Texas Tech University Press) won for Best Western Historical Novel; and Gary Schanbacher’s Crossing Purgatory (Pegasus) won for Best Western Traditional Novel.
The Storyteller Spur for Best Illustrated Children’s Book went to Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story (Yosemite Conservancy), written by Ginger Wadsworth and illustrated by Daniel San Souci.
Other winners:
Earle Labor’s Jack London: An American Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) for Best Western Nonfiction – Biography; William Philpott’s Vactionland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country (University of Washington Press) for Best Western Nonfiction – Contemporary; Ellen Gray Massey Papa’s Gold (Pen-L) for Best Western Juvenile Fiction; Jean A. Lukesh’s Eagle of Delight: Portrait of the Plains Indian Girl in the White House (Field Mouse Productions) for Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction; Waddie Mitchell and Juni Fisher’s “Still There” (Red Geetar Music) for Best Western Song; Brett Cogburn’s “Cabin Fever” (High Hill Press) for Best Western Short Fiction Story; Amy Glynn Greacen’s “Chamise” (Orion) for Best Western Poem; and Indian Relay by M. Smoker (Dye Works Film) for Best Western Documentary Script.
Complete winners and finalists are posted on this website.

2014 Owen Wister Award Winner, Robert J. Conley

Robert J. Conley is the 2014 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Contributions to Western Literature.  The award is given by Western Writers of America as its highest honor and will be presented during the organization’s annual convention in June in Sacramento, Calif.

Conley, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor in Cherokee Studies and Founding Director of the Tsalagi Institute at Western Carolina University. He is the immediate past president of Western Writers of America, and the author of around 80 books, including the Spur Award-winning novels “The Dark Island” and “Nickajack.” He also won a Spur for his short story “Yellow Bird: An Imaginary Autobiography,” published in “The Witch of Goingsnake.” Among his other novels are “Mountain Windsong,” “War Woman,” “Cherokee Dragon,” “Sequoyah” and “Brass.”

Conley has blended a career as a novelist with historical research and publishing, including material about his tribe: “A Cherokee Encyclopedia” and “Cherokee Thoughts Honest & Uncensored.” His poems and short stories have been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies over the years in Germany, France, Belgium, New Zealand and Yugoslavia. They appear in multiple languages: English, Cherokee, German, French, and Macedonian. He also wrote the novelization of a screenplay, “Geronimo: An American Legend,” published in the United States by Pocket Books and reprinted in translation in Italy.

His first novel, “Back to Malachi,” was written “out of anger,” Conley says, rooted in misrepresentations of Ned Christie, “a Cherokee who was falsely accused of murder and hounded for 4½ years before he was killed by a huge posse.” At the time, publishers did not believe they could publish a Western with an Indian protagonist, but Conley’s work broke the threshold and he would go on to assist in the early development of Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers, which encourages American Indian writers.